A Relocator's Guide To Berkeley

Located on the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay, Berkeley is known for being a diverse, academically friendly, eco-conscious place to live. It’s no wonder why so many individuals and families who visit and study here go on to stay and buy their own piece of Berkeley real estate. From the best restaurants to the most sought-after neighborhoods, read on for an insider’s guide to Berkeley. 



Many families with children are eager to buy Berkeley homes for sale due to the city’s highly regarded public and private schools. The town is served by the Berkeley Unified School District, a highly rated district that has nearly 10,000 students in grades K-12 and an average student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1. The district’s average testing ranking is 9 out of 10, putting it in the top 20% of public schools in California. The top-ranked public schools in the district are Ruth Acty Elementary, Willard Middle School, and Martin Luther King Middle School.

As for private schools, there are 25 from which to choose. Black Pine Circle School is an independent K-8 school unique in its Socratic approach to teaching and learning. For high school, Maybeck High School is a coeducational college preparatory school. Much of the curriculum centers around a sense of responsibility and graceful engagement with the world.

According to U.S. News & World Report's latest global ranking, the town is also home to the acclaimed University of California, Berkeley, ranked the #1 public and fourth-best university overall. The prestigious school was originally established in 1868 and was the state's first land-grant university. 


Berkeley’s 100-plus eateries make it a paradise for food lovers, from hole-in-the-wall cafes to upscale restaurants. When you’re ready to celebrate the purchase of your Berkeley real estate, book a table at Chez Panisse. Opened in 1971 by author Alice Waters—winner of Restaurant Magazine’s 2007 “Lifetime Achievement Award”—and film producer Paul Aratow, Chez Panisse is one of the originators of California cuisine-style cooking. The menu changes daily, leaning into seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients and sourcing from local farms. 

The authentic Italian cuisine at Lucia’s will make you feel like you’re sitting at a palazzo in Naples. This Neapolitan-style eatery specializes in pizzas and pasta and uses local, seasonal, and organic produce to ensure guests have the highest quality dishes possible. The most popular main dishes include the pappardelle alla bolognese pasta and the Norma pizza, made with Jersey mozzarella, fried eggplant, and sheep Ricotta Salata.


Berkeley’s abundance of bookstores has plenty of options to delight any reader. Find your next novel at the legendary Berkeley landmark Moe’s Books. Heralded as one of the best bookstores in America, Moe’s comprises four floors of books and holds over 200,000 selections, including many rare and collectible books.

Take a break from looking at Berkeley homes for sale to pet a cat at Sleepy Cat Books.  You’ll not only find a purrfect selection of new and used books and a wonderful postcard collection you’ll have the chance to meet the actual store manager, Lyla the cat.


Compared to California's Southern and Central areas, residents of this Northern California gem see a little more weather from their Berkeley real estate. While the rest of the U.S. averages 205 sunny days a year, Berkeley is fortunate to average 256. Summer temperature highs are typically around 72 degrees, with winter lows averaging 44 degrees.

Sights to see 

If you’re downstream looking at Oakland, CA homes for sale from the water, dock your boat at the Berkeley Marina. You can bring the whole family to enjoy the fantastic playgrounds, open hiking spaces, water sports, restaurants, and events such as the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration. Shorebird Park Nature Center in the marina’s park features picnic sites, play areas, and a nature center with fish and wildlife displays.

Abundant art and culture opportunities

With a vibrant arts scene, Berkeley is home to dozens of galleries, theaters, and museums. The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, also known as BAMPFA, is a combined art museum and music theater. BAMPFA presents more than 20 gallery exhibitions and 450 film programs each year. They also host extensive public programs, including family-friendly classes, lectures, and performances. 

Catch live entertainment at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, a Tony Award-winning regional theater. Located in downtown Berkeley, the theater showcases an exciting list of innovative productions from its two stages throughout the year.

Take the elevator to the top of 307-foot tall Sather Tower, also known as the Campanile, for great views of the Bay Area. Built in 1914, this structure is the third-highest bell and clock tower in the world.

Ideal neighborhoods

Berkeley consists of 36 neighborhoods spanning ten districts, so you will have plenty to consider while looking at Berkeley homes for sale. Each community offers its own unique feel, from bustling districts to affluent neighborhoods.

Northbrae is an upscale Berkeley neighborhood known for its spectacular views of San Francisco Bay and predominantly Craftsman and California bungalows. Families in the market for Berkeley real estate love its pink sidewalks and enigmatic rock parks.

Berkeley Hills is considered one of the city’s most desirable places to live in the East Bay. This neighborhood is synonymous with sweeping bay views, towering trees, and spacious properties, home to some of Berkeley's wealthiest individuals. It also showcases various architectural styles, including Craftsman bungalows, Mediterranean mansions, and sleek, luxurious modern masterpieces.

Unique coffee shops

Kickstart your morning with a caffeine fix from Caffeinated Coffee. This light-filled coffee and tea shop is a farm-to-cup coffee roasting house. From French press to espresso, you can rest assured that your coffee is ethically sourced and roasted with care by locals. 

Highwire Coffee Roasters is another famous coffee house in Berkeley. It was started by three individuals who wanted coffee to be a force for good. Since opening its first location in Oakland in 2011, Highwire has opened stores in Berkeley, Albany, Montclair Village, and Alameda.

Stunning parks

Photo Courtesy of If Lost Start Here

Berkeley offers plenty of parks that families and outdoor enthusiasts love. Codornices Park is a local favorite. Located in a beautiful hillside setting, Codornices contains a basketball court, softball field, and play areas for tots and school-age children. You can hike to a scenic overlook and have lunch in the picnic area.

Tilden Regional Park offers over 2,000 acres of natural beauty, hiking trails, and scenic views just minutes from downtown Berkeley. Many of the trails weave through forests of fragrant eucalyptus and grassy meadows. Stop and smell the roses at the Tilden Park Regional Botanic Garden, which is a great place to get inspiration for the garden in your new Berkeley real estate. The stunning landscapes showcase California’s varied plant life, including nearly all of California's conifers and oaks. Flowers bloom every month of the year, reaching a peak in midsummer.

A healthy lifestyle

Berkeley residents are known for being health-conscious. The city takes nutrition seriously, having imposed a tax of 1 cent per ounce on sugary sodas to help reduce health issues among children.

This California community is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, with many residents opting to bike to work rather than drive. UC Berkeley has implemented new bike paths, and it has been named one of the most bicycle-friendly campuses in the country, as rated by the League of American Bicyclists.

Be sure to take advantage of the city’s plethora of farmer’s markets. The North Berkeley All Organic Farmers' Market and Downtown Berkeley Farmers' Market are open-air marketplaces where California farmers sell fresh produce, baked nuts, jams and preserves, olive oils, meats, cheeses, and plenty more directly to consumers.

If you’re ready to explore Berkeley homes for sale and want a native Oaklander who knows the area like the back of their hand, contact experienced luxury real estate agent Cynthia Speers today. Whether you’re looking for high-end Berkeley condos for sale or you’re selling upscale Oakland real estate, Cynthia has over ten years of experience and promises to help you find the Bay Area home of your dreams.

Cynthia’s deep Bay Area family roots are the source of her extensive knowledge of Berkeley, and her passion for real estate has resulted in a top-notch reputation in one of America’s most competitive markets. Contact Cynthia today to get started on your next real estate adventure!

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